I have never been a play-it-safe kind of a gal.
When I was young I liked bad boys, loud music and driving fast. I pushed the envelope. I debated with teachers. I orchestrated complex pranks. I was a feminist at 10. I took Billie Jean King's victory over Bobby Riggs as a personal achievement, even though I didn't play tennis.
I wanted to protest, to march, to rebel, but during the '80's at my college, few others were into that. We railed against investments in apartheid South Africa (and won - the university divested) but then asked ourselves, "What next?"
I routinely threw caution to the wind. I drank too much, danced until my legs ached, snuck into the stables at night and rode horses bareback. I was a passionate smoker and a brazen flirt. I went to bars in bad neighborhoods and went home with the new friends I met there.
Right out of college, I went to work for Procter & Gamble as a sales rep. In Oklahoma. Selling Crisco and peanut butter and cake mixes and Pringles. What was I thinking?
My first apartment was a studio just a few blocks from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. I didn't know about Oral Roberts; had never heard of it. It was September and hot. I strolled out to the pool in my bikini with my Bartles & James and Benson & Hedges, sat down next to group of young women and said hello. En masse, they stood up and walked away. That's how I found out about Oral Roberts University.
"C'est la vie" was my motto; I didn't let it get me down. I found clubs that blared Talking Heads until 2 in the morning, even in Tulsa.
I was a natural at sales, but I chafed at P&G's dress code and form-over-substance policies and in short order headed off to law school.
Nobody really enjoys law school, but I loved it. I loved the heated debates and political discussions. I loved talking about big issues and, well, partying with like-minded new friends. I loved using my brain and being free to speak my mind. I graduated with a load of student loans and no job, but a heart full of possibilities.
We all have to grow up some time and I did, too. I settled down, got married and had kids. I practiced law in firms and on my own. I loved my husband and adored my girls. There were times when the routine, though I loved my life, seemed a little stifling. I couldn't complain; I chose my life and I am so very privileged to have been able to do so. And yet I began to feel like a smaller, rather pastel version of myself. I thought that was just what happens. My inspirational well was drying up. Not much seemed exciting any more. I wondered what to do next.
And then my posse called: "Let's get out of town!" "Let's meet in Chicago!" "I'll drive!"
We road-tripped like the old days. Met in a hotel and gabbed, sipped wine and went out to eat. We walked everywhere. We window-shopped, acted crazy and sang karaoke. We danced and giggled. I remembered who I am inside and felt loved by women who "get" me. I don't have to settle for pastel. I can be my bold, brazen self. I was positively effervescent.
And so, for my birthday, I did something I have wanted to do for the longest time. I went to a tattoo shop. I was a little nervous. The guys who ran the joint, covered in body art and multiple piercings, were incredibly kind. They didn't make me feel like a middle-aged suburban mom, slightly out of her comfort zone.
I got my nose pierced, but even better than that: I got my sparkle back.